Nancy Norris contributes the columns “Greening Your Railway” and “Plant Portraits” as well as feature articles for Garden Railways magazine. In addition, she’s a garden railway planning and construction consultant, having founded her business, Garden Lines, in 1997 for building outdoor train layouts in her own San Francisco Bay area.
Nancy has a B.S. in Plant & Soil Sciences, a Master of Occupational Education, and has completed a full schedule of gardening in New England and California.
As an education researcher in the 1980s, Nancy became a ham radio operator and boat builder. She also learned to build and fly radio-controlled model airplanes, which her grandson wanted to fly. She gives him credit for towing her to a local train show where she saw her first copy of Garden Railways magazine. Now she and her grandson are active in their club, the Bay Area Garden Railway Society, building and running live steam locomotives.
Part 1. Mini-Habitats
1. Gallery of miniature gardens
2. "Zoning laws” for climate compatibility
Part 2. Creating Living Landscapes
3. Design your mini-garden: principles of design, theme ideas, site evaluation
4. Massing plants to frame a focal point
5. Color me content
6. Easy access into your garden
7. Mini-plant care: fertilization, cultivation, irrigation, propagation, and maintenance
8. Prune trees for a scale appearance
Part 3. Plant Selection
9. Annuals for color and contrast
10. Aquatics have wet feet
11. Cascading trees and the rocks that support them
12. Deserts need succulents
13. Drought-resistant plants and practices to reduce water usage
14. Invite critters into your railway
15. Isolate your garden from nuisance nibblers
16. Grass-like miniatures
17. Junipers to appreciate
18. Low-down groundcovers
19. Micro-miniature trees and shrubs
ii. Online links
iii. Miniature gardens you can visit
iv. Online nurseries
About the author/Acknowledgements
For outdoor model railroaders, much of the allure of a garden railway is in its living landscape. Miniature Garden Guidebook, the newest title from Kalmbach Publishing, focuses on planning and designing railway gardens, and covers selection and climate compatibility of plants. It also offers galleries of miniature gardens for inspiration and ideas.
In Miniature Garden Guidebook, author Nancy Norris covers designing and planning a railway garden, selecting plants, and mastering the special needs of miniature plants: hardiness zones, watering, fertilization, pruning, and controlling pests. Handy tables list plants appropriate for ground cover, trees, bushes, grasses, and Aquatic scenes that make planning more fun and planting more successful.
Nancy Norris contributes the columns “Greening Your Railway” and “Plant Portraits,” as well as feature articles for Garden Railways magazine. In addition, she’s a garden railway planning and construction consultant, having founded her business, Garden Lines, in 997 for building outdoor train layouts for her own San Francisco Bay area.
-Model Railroad News
Nancy Norris, Horticultural Editor for Garden Railways magazine, has put together this handy guidebook that railroad gardeners, from novices to green-thumbers, will find useful. It is well organized into parts and chapters that are color coded, identified with colored tabs along the margin. The emphasis is definitely on small and miniature plants and intricate landscapes especially suited to garden railways.
After a general introduction, Nancy takes us on a photo tour of a fascinating variety of garden railroads from hawaii, Canada, and the continental US, to Germany. In Part 2 she covers topics related to miniature-landscape development and maintenance. Part 3 moves on to a wide-ranging discussion of plant selection, culture, incorporation into a variety of landscape themes, miniature-tree development and shaping, and other garden-related topics. Many of the chapters are taken from Nancy's column, "Greening your railway," including the "Regional garden reports" written by a panel of avid railroad gardeners from across the US. Handy charts in each section give useful information to help in plant selection. There is a wealth of information in the appendices at the end of the book, which offer resources for further reading, from books to online sources; online nurseries offering miniature plants; and gardens that are open to the public for visiting. And there is an extensive glossary of terms for those unfamiliar with things horticultural, especially related to garden railroading.
Nancy is a highly qualified expert in the miniature-plant world, especially in relation to railroad gardens. Her credentials are augmented by her experience as a consultant and desgner of garden railroads, and by her travels and investigations of garden railroads in many parts of the US and Canada. In the how-to sections of the book, I found her writing to be clear and informative, with helpful references to related resources tucked in. In the more descriptive sections, I found her prose to be rather colorful and inventive - although occasionally sounding a bit contrived or overdone. She seems to have a special fondness for the whimsical and unusual. The soft-cover book is beautifully illustrated throughout with excellent photography, nicely reproduced on glossy, white paper.
Nancy points out that she can't cover all topics related to this wide subject but this book does a great job of organizing important material in a very readable format. I don't necessarily agree with every recommendation but there is always room for personal preferences. I did find one place where the information was incorrect. In Chapter 15, under "Bugs!" (page 82), she states that iron phosphate will kill slugs and snails when they crawl on it. Actually, iron phosphate products (e.g. Sluggo) are only toxic to slugs and snails when ingested. The pellets have a coating that appeals to the slimy creatures. However, it is safe for animals and humans and is actually beneficial for the soil. On the other hand, diatomaceous earth is a sharply abrasive substance that the tender-bellied slugs and snails are reluctant to slither across.
That small caveat aside, I would heartily recommend this book to anyone wanting a handy reference for starting, expanding, or maintaining their railroad garden. There are enough ideas with links to further information here to fire the imagination and give you the necessary know-how to approach railroad gardening with confidence.
-Garden Railways magazine